- Alison Novak
- Alison and her family this spring
Seven and a half years ago, I was at a crossroads. After teaching elementary school for the bulk of my twenties, first in the South Bronx and then in Burlington, I'd left the profession. I'd gone back to graduate school at Saint Michael's College to work toward my certification as a literacy specialist and was running a lunchtime mentoring program at the school where I'd most recently taught. But my most demanding and fulfilling job at that time was parenting. My daughter had just started first grade, and my son was 3.
I'd also been dabbling in writing for Kids VT, mostly first-person pieces about fun things to do with kids. Writing has always been a passion of mine. So has exploring new places and activities. I loved that the work allowed me to combine those two things.
So when an opening for a part-time calendar writer at Kids VT popped up, my interest was piqued. I quickly decided that it probably wasn't the right fit for me, but a few days later, I was still thinking about it. So I applied — and got the position. I'm so glad I did.
The gig doing calendar listings eventually transitioned into writing more articles, then into editing others' work, and eventually to becoming managing editor, the position I've held for the past five or so years. It's truly been a dream job.
As my kids have grown up, I've written hundreds of articles. I've visited classrooms and tiny homes. I've written about innovative educational programs and profiled kids and adults making a difference in their communities. I've tackled meaty issues, including gestational surrogacy and low pay for childcare workers, and lighter ones, such as bunny yoga and snack boards. Though I only have two kids, Kids VT has sometimes felt like my third.
Most recently, my favorite part of the job has been working with the dynamic group of Kids VT freelancers who lend their voices and expertise to the publication each month. Many of them have young kids and bring a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to their writing that reminds me of what it was like to be a new mom.
Now I'm at another crossroads. That first grader I had when I started with Kids VT will begin high school next year. My son is almost as tall as me. And I'm ready for a new challenge. In the coming weeks, I'll be transitioning to a new role on the Seven Days news team, where I'll be primarily writing about K-12 education in the state — a beat I started covering during the pandemic. I'm thrilled to continue following some of the topics I've written about already, such as the future of Burlington High School and the debate over school resource officers, and to explore new ones. Again, it feels like a dream job.
Kids VT will live on in my absence, though the form it takes post-pandemic may change. Like everyone else, we're thinking about what we want our "new normal" to be. Watch for July and August issues, which I'll be helping to plan, and stay tuned for what's next.
As I sign off, I'd like to give a big thanks to the readers who've followed Kids VT, whether you've been reading the publication for seven years — or seven months. Look for my stories in Seven Days and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have ideas or tips.
I always stress to my kids how important it is to break out of their comfort zone and try new things. Now it's their mom's turn.